I am dealing with some self-inflicted wounds right now. I had a long weekend of very little sleep, a lot of lifting, opening/closing heavy windows, and reaching. After going through so many surgeries, I should have the fact that I shouldn’t be lifting a lot or reaching for things (thus straining my abdominal muscles) ingrained in my head by now. I have known this for years, but it wasn’t until this week that I think I really understood it.
I have had two hernias since I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I think it comes with the territory in a way when your body has had to undergo constant cutting of your abdominal muscles.
But for the last year, I have been (knock on wood) in good health. It has been my best year yet. I think when you’re relatively healthy, you don’t want to pay much attention to some of the common sense things you always did. For example, after about a year with my first ostomy, I became more adventurous with food. I went from being scared to eat anything that wasn’t plain to wanting to indulge in mostly everything. It was great that I finally felt comfortable enough with my body to put different foods in me but I almost always paid for it.
Now that I have had some sustained health with this ostomy, I have been feeling similarly. I thought I was fine to lift bags in and out of the car. I thought I didn’t need help opening up and closing a heavy window. I thought this most recent cold wasn’t a big deal because…well…it isn’t GI related and it isn’t life altering.
I was wrong.
I still can’t and shouldn’t lift anything heavy or anything that has the potential to strain my abdominal muscles. I still can’t push and pull heavy windows. I still get colds that never seem to go away easily, thus making me feel incredibly wiped out. I still can’t reach for things when they are really high in a cabinet.
Point being, I still need to be careful. I still need to be mindful of what my body has gone through and where it stands now.
I am thankfully healthier than I have been in a very long time. I think it is natural to push yourself more or shy away from asking for help with certain things as a patient with ulcerative colitis or Crohns disease. In a lot of ways we are programmed to always be “fine” and not to ask for help unless we absolutely have no choice.
But I have come to learn that not asking for help this past weekend and not being aware of my body is detrimental to my entire well being. I have had a terrible cold, bad cough (also the enemy of a weak stomach) with a lot of nausea from thinking I don’t need to take sleeping that seriously. My stomach muscles have been sore since the beginning of the week. As someone who needs all the stars to align in order to fall asleep at night, I think I could probably fall asleep while writing this blog post because of how I feel.
I wanted to share this with you all because I think a lot of us tend to get excited when we feel well so once we have had a period of sustained health, we throw a little bit of common sense out the window. We aren’t as cautious with the foods we put in our mouths. We overextend ourselves. We stay up later and go out more. We just…do more which is awesome! But it is so important to take it easy when you need to. Take a break every once and a while. Put your health first because if that isn’t intact, nothing else will be.